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VAN HALEN

Anselmo Valencia Amphitheater, Thursday, Nov. 18, and Friday, Nov. 19

Reunited with Sammy Hagar, Van Halen (a.k.a. Van Hagar to fans of the original lineup) surprisingly ended its 80-date tour with back-to-back shows in Tucson, of all markets.

Although the setlist didn't change, both nights proved to be two of the most exciting and entertaining concert experiences in recent memory. Casino del Sol's AVA was the perfect host for the reunion, combining the band's monstrous sound with the best-sounding outdoor venue in the state.

Hagar alone stole the show. Wearing a beanie and sunglasses, he was doing split kicks and strutting around the stage during the opener, "Jump," proving who the better frontman is for one of rock's greatest bands.

Egos set aside, all band members appeared to enjoy sharing the same stage once again. Legendary guitarist Eddie Van Halen stopped at nothing to amaze an awestruck crowd. "Poundcake" was highlighted by EVH's power-drill intro, and his son, Wolfgang, performed dual guitar parts on "You Really Got Me" with dad.

During both two-hour performances, Van Halen reintroduced the concept of arena rock with each member performing a solo during set breaks. Bassist Michael Anthony and Hagar highlighted the individual solos. Anthony smashed and ground his Jack Daniel's-replica bass before tossing out small bottles to the crowd and drinking a larger one himself. Hagar strapped on a guitar and performed songs from his solo career.

Hagar autographed every bit of memorabilia the crowd threw at him and acted as bartender and drinking buddy with the crowd, pouring and sharing drinks with those in the front row. Noticing a youngster pressed against the barricade, Hagar ran offstage and returned with a juice box.

The difference between the two nights was the tightness in the band; Friday night was much looser and filled with pranks. While performing "I Can't Drive 55" during his solo spot, a remote-controlled Hummer wheeled onto the stage, continually bumping Hagar.

Seeming to have fallen off the bandwagon yet again, EVH's mood changed drastically as the final performance ended. Constantly yelling, "That's it, it's over," all night, Eddie made the crowd ponder if another breakup was on the horizon. This was later fueled after "Right Now," when EVH smashed his guitar repeatedly before swinging his ax, almost nailing Hagar. This immediately drew a "What the fuck?" reaction from his band and the crowd.

Whether this was the last Sammy Hagar-fronted Van Halen show or not, not one person went home disappointed.

Oh yeah ... David Lee who?

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More by Jon Hobson

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